NCAA & NJCAA ITF National Athletes of the Week (January 31)

NCAA & NJCAA ITF National Athletes of the Week (January 31)

NEW ORLEANS — Records fell in collegiate track & field this past weekend and several of our National Athletes of the Week had a major hand in those instances.

Without further ado, let’s see who earned National Athlete of the Week honors for the week that ended on January 31.

Find out more about these athletes by clicking their names or scrolling below.

National Athlete of the Week is an award selected and presented by the USTFCCCA Communications Staff at the beginning of each week to 8 collegiate outdoor track & field athletes (male and female for each of the three NCAA divisions and the NJCAA).

Nominations are open to the public. Coaches and sports information directors are encouraged to nominate their student-athletes; as are student-athletes, their families and friends, and fans of their programs.

The award seeks to highlight not only the very best times, marks and scores on a week-to-week basis, but also performances that were significant on the national landscape and/or the latest in a series of strong outings. Quality of competition, suspenseful finishes and other factors will also play a role in the decision.

NCAA DIVISION I MEN — Fred Kerley, Texas A&M

Senior | Sprints
Taylor, Texas

When you have a quick lead-off leg in a relay, good things can happen.

Make that double if that opening split is one of the fastest in world history.

Texas A&M’s Fred Kerley gave the Aggies his all this past weekend at the Razorback Invitational in Fayetteville, Invitational with a first-lap split of 44.96 in the 4×400. Once Kerley handed the baton to Richard Rose, all the senior could do was watch.

And watch he did as the Aggies continued the blister the track on their way to a collegiate-record time of 3:02.52. That mark better the program’s previous collegiate record set in 2015 and the current time sits as the 4th fastest in the history of the world.

“The plan was to open up the race from the start and give every inch of an advantage to my teammates as possible,” Kerley told Texas A&M’s website. “My momentum is really strong right now and I’m happy with the performances I’ve had so far this season.”

One day earlier Kerley ran the 3rd fastest time in the nation this year over 200 meters (20.58). Kerley finished runner-up to defending NCAA champ Christian Coleman.

NCAA DIVISION I WOMEN — Raevyn Rogers, Oregon

Junior | Mid-Distance
Houston, Texas

Every second counts in a relay, especially when you’re going for a record.

Oregon had their best athletes in their best events this past weekend at the East-West Challenge hosted by Columbia and that included Raevyn Rogers in her signature 800.

Rogers teamed up with three other Ducks in the DMR and set a collegiate record in the process. Oregon, with Rogers on the 3rd leg, clocked a time of 10:48.77. Rogers hit a split of 2:03.53, three seconds faster than any other 800 runner on a relay team.

The following day, Rogers competed in the open 800 and recorded a time of 2:01.75. That was the second time Rogers went sub-2:02 indoors and that put her 7th on the all-time collegiate list in addition to her 2nd best effort of 2:00.90 set last year.

NCAA DIVISION II MEN — David Ribich, Western Oregon

Junior | Distance
Enterprise, Oregon

Before this past weekend, Western Oregon junior David Ribich had a PR of 4:05.21 in the mile.

Well, Ribich is getting awfully close to that elusive 4-minute barrier.

Running against an elite field this past weekend at the Washington Invitational, Ribich placed 5th in the mile in a time of 4:02.30 and beat a strong number of NCAA DI runners in the process. That shaved nearly 3 seconds off his previous PR. The race was won by Syracuse’s Justyn Knight, who clocked a time of 3:59.54.

Ribich also had his hand in Western Oregon’s DMR. He ran the anchor leg and helped his team to an NCAA DII-leading time of 9:45.45.

NCAA DIVISION II WOMEN — Carly Muscaro, Merrimack

Senior | Sprints
Ashland, Massachusetts

Welcome back, Carly Muscaro.

Truth is, she never left — but she just made her 2017 debut.

Muscaro opened her senior year at the John Terrier Invitational hosted by Boston University and dropped a scorching time in the 400. She crossed the finish line in 52.27, which is good enough for the 2nd fastest time in NCAA DII history. Muscaro has the 2nd, 4th, 5th and 10th fastest times in NCAA DII history indoors.

Lincoln (Mo.)’s Lorraine Graham still holds the record of 52.22 set 10 years ago.

NCAA DIVISION III MEN — Jeffery Barnett, Trine

Sophomore | Jumps
Fremont, Ohio

Trine’s Jeffery Barnett stood out this past weekend at the Don and Riley Zimmer Indoor Classic.

Barnett, a sophomore, soared 7.61m (24-11¾) in the long jump and recorded the 8th best mark in NCAA DIII history indoors. He also took over the national lead by 4½ inches. An 8 cm improvement would land Barnett in the top-5.

NCAA DIVISION III WOMEN — Amber Celen, Bridgewater (Va.)

Junior | Jumps & Sprints
Townsend, Delaware

Remember the name “Amber Celen,” folks.

Celen continued her torrid start to the season this past weekend at the Patriot Games. The junior from Townsend, Delaware clocked an NCAA DIII-leading time of 7.69 over 60 meters in a runner-up effort to an NCAA DI athlete.

Add that to what she’s done this season and you’ll see Celen is the NCAA DIII leader at 60 meters, 200 meters and is 2nd in the long jump behind MIT’s Nneoma Okonkwo.

NJCAA MEN — Keitavious Walter, Hinds CC

Sophomore | Sprints
Ruston, Louisiana

Keitavious Walter is a major reason why Hinds CC is known as a sprint powerhouse.

This past weekend at the KMS Invitational, Walter clocked an NJCAA-leading time of 6.65 in the 60 meters. Walter won the race by 11 tenths of a second over Solomon Afful from Middle Tennessee State, an NCAA DI program.

Later in the meet, Walter ran the 2nd fastest time of the season over 200 meters.

NJCAA WOMEN — Vavara Klyuchnikova, Vincennes

Sophomore | Jumps

Vincennes sophomore Vavara Klyuchiknova is going to be tough to catch in the high jump if she keeps competing at a high level.

Klyuchiknova cleared 1.80m (5-10¾) and is the NJCAA leader by two inches.

That tied a PR for the 2016 NJCAA Outdoor champion in the event.